It’s not our fault; blame it on the evolutionary impulse of our brains. We’re wired toward routine and because of that we often walk around asleep concerned about what is immediately in front of us. I was talking with a friend recently who has been jolted out of the matrix of life’s daily routine and into a space of awareness of human potential. He sat me down at his house and read me the following poem by poet/activist Drew Dellinger:
“It’s 3:23 in the morning
And I’m awake
Because my great great grandchildren
Ask me in dreams
What did you do while the planet was plundered?
What did you do when the earth was unraveling?
Surely you did something
When the seasons started failing?
As the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest
When democracy was stolen?
What did you do
In a recent study published in Nature, scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa concluded that if greenhouse emissions continue as they are today by 2047 (plus or minus five years) the “coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest years in the past,” said Camila Mora, lead scientist. This would have major ripple effects across the world socially and biologically.
Even if we take this research with a grain of salt, even if you’re a complete skeptic of global warming, we can’t ignore the reality that what we do today has consequences for the future. The simple fact is, how we treat our planet, how we encourage violence in the world, the objectification of people, or the growing disconnection among people is not a liberal or conservative issue, it’s a simple scientific issue of cause and effect. It’s an issue of our common humanity. But the brain does a little trick on us, because 35 years from now seems far off, it may classify it as important, but not urgent. Your brain views your Facebook message or that incoming text as far more urgent and important to pay attention to in the moment. Again, it’s not your fault, it’s the way all our brains are wired. So you’re not going to default to being aware of how your immediate actions have future consequences.
How do we begin waking up to the reality that from thoughts come actions and from our actions come consequences?
Mindfulness is about being aware of how the actions of today affect the generations of the future. We might consider asking ourselves as we engage life in front of our children or our friends’ children, am I teaching them things that are going to help them and their children or am I teaching them things are encouraging the “ME” revolutions or the “WE” revolution? They are constantly absorbing our actions without us knowing it and will be more likely to pass this onto their children.
As Drew Dillinger writes, “What did you do once you knew?”
Now you know, we can no longer afford to be asleep; our life is not just about our life, it’s about the life or your future family, your friends’ families, and the family of humanity.
In any given moment, the question isn’t how do we save our great great grandchildren? It’s “Are my actions ‘serving’ my great great grandchildren?” Serve in whatever way you can.
The foundation for this starts with us, the future rests with this choice point right now.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below.